Bûche de Noël – a Chocolate and Marzipan Christmas Repast

Every Christmas I hunt for an alternative to the traditional British Christmas pudding which as I get older I find I like less and less after the big Christmas day meal.  Usually it is something involving meringue, but this year under the influence of Maren Lubbe’s blog MaLu’s Koestlichkeiten and the awfully produced Netflix  Bake Off / Masterchef  copy, Zumbo’s Just Desserts, I have gone a little entremet mad and headed into the world of layered and slightly complex mousse deserts.

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This Bûche de Noël is one of Maren’s recipes and departs from the traditional yule log (sponge rolled in a cream filling  and then covered in chocolate buttercream).  It is a lighter mousse and jelly version, with a rich dark chocolate moose wrapped around marzipan mousse with a tangy cranberry and apple jelly running through it,  on a  bed of chocolate sponge.

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I made it as my contribution to my brother’s Christmas dinner though I have to say the beloved was not 100% sure about it as he is no great lover of chocolate puddings,  I was determined to make it.  Why ?  Partly because this is more Christmassy than a meringue based desert and I thought my french sister in law would appreciate a traditionally French element to her Christmas dinner.  It seemed to go down a treat with no left overs though I have to confess the marzipan mousse was not set quite firmly enough!

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Like many baking classics, the origins of the traditional recipe are long lost though it is  for sure a patisserie based reference to a very old celtic and nordic tradition of burning a specially selected log to welcome in the new year on the winter solstice.  The middle ages built complex rituals around the bringing in of the yule log whose remnants were kept and used as talismen to protect the household over the coming year.  Sadly switching on the central heating on Christmas Day will never be imbued with any special symbolism, but the old tradition still has echoes with the flaming pudding so beloved of the Brits and this french cake which became popular in the UK in the 80s.

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One of the huge advantages of this particular recipe for the busy Christmas cook is that it can be made a few weeks in advance and put in the freezer until the big day and then whipped out and given its final finish first thing Christmas morning. One of the disadvantages, as my credit card bill is making clear to me, is that it does need specialist kit in the form of a a large and midi buche mould and wood effect silicone mat to create the log like finish, alongside the very expensive ingredient that is spray can cocoa butter (at £27 a pop!).

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It is tricky in 2 regards – time because of the 4 elements that have to be made, assembled and frozen, and getting the right set of the mousse where I found I needed 50% more gelatine than Marren’s original recipe possibly because the gelatine sheets we get in the UK (10x7cm) are not as big as those in Germany.  Other than that, just work through the recipe and allow yourself about 2 evenings to bring it together.

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The Recipe

Equipment

The Ingredients and Method

Like all these type of puddings you have to go in order and it is easier to lay out the ingredients and method for each of the elements and then bring it all together at the end.  It is a bit of a pain for doing the shopping list from this but I think it is easier to follow.

The order of play here is

  1. Make the jelly and freeze (which takes 5-6 hours)
  2. Make the chocolate genoise sponge, cool and set aside
  3. Make the chocolate mousse and pour into mould and chill whilst making marzipan mousse
  4. Make the marzipan mousse and chill until thick and gloopy (about 45 minutes in the fridge)
  5. Assemble the buche
  6. Freeze over night (or over week/fortnight)
  7. On the day of serving take out of the freezer, demould, spray with cocoa butter while frozen and decorate
  8. Defrost at room temperature  for 3-4 hours or overnight in the fridge (but chill again once defrozen)

Hold on to your hats and here goes !

Cranberry and Apple Jelly 

  • 300g desert apple, after peeling and coring (about 600g whole)
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 100g fresh cranberries
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 35 g caster sugar
  • 3 sheets of gelatine (10cm x 7cm)

Method

  • soak the gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water
  • fill a bowl with water and squeeze half a lemon into it and then drop the lemon half in
  • peel, core and dice the apples and put straight into the lemon water to stop them browning
  • put the apple, cranberries, cinnamon, sugar and orange in a pan and cook gently until soft
  • using a blender blend the mixture to a smooth paste
  • squeeze the excess water out of the gelatine sheets and stir into the apple mixture until dissolved
  • pour into your midi buche mould – you need 3 pieces but may have more (my photo has more because I planned to make 2 bouches)
  • place in fridge until beginning to set (just to check they are setting – if they don’t, reheat and add another half sheet of gelatine) and then wrap in cling film and freeze for

 

 

 

Chocolate Genoise

  • 1 egg (large)
  • 1 egg yolk (large)
  • 35g icing sugar
  • 30g ground almonds
  • 1 egg white (large)
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 30g plain flour
  • 10g cocoa
  • 12g Melted Unsalted Butter

Method

  • heat your oven 180C/ 160C fan
  • cut out a sheet of parchment the size of your baking tray
  • mark out a rectangle of 25cm x 9cm on the parchment
  • put the egg, egg yolk, ground almonds  and icing sugar in a bowl
  • whisk until thick and foamy and the mixture leaves a ribbon on the surface when dripped from the end of the mixer
  • sieve the flour and cocoa together in a separate bowl and then sieve again over the egg
  • carefully fold into the egg mixture
  • whisk the egg white and caster sugar to stiff peaks
  • carefully fold this into the egg mixture
  • take 1 large spoonful of the mixture and mix in with the melted butter and then fold this mixture back into the main mixture
  • spread out onto the baking parchment to 1cm thick making sure that it goes beyond your marked out rectangle
  • bake for 8 to 10 minutes
  • remove the baking parchment and cool

 

 

Chocolate Mousse

  • 200g whipping Cream
  • 160g dark chocolate
  • 100g single cream
  • 2 sheets of gelatine

Method

  • soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water
  • place the wood effect mat into the mould so it is lying in the mould to an even height on both sides
  • whip the whipping cream until just going stiff (soft peaks)
  • cut up your chocolate into small pieces and put in a bowl
  • put the single cream in the pan and heat until nearly boiling
  • pour 1/3rd over the chocolate and mix and then pour the rest and stir until the chocolate is fully melted
  • squeeze the excess water out of the gelatine and stir into the chocolate
  • wait for the mixture to get to 50C and then fold in the whipped cream (too hot and the cream breaks down,  too cold (below 45C) and the mousse becomes grainy – so put the bowl with the mixture on a bain marie and heat back up if it has cooled below 45C)
  • pour the mixture into the mould and place in the fridge and immediately move on to making the marzipan mousse but take this out of the fridge after no more than 50 minutes – you want a semi firm set for the assembly, not a full one

 

 

 

Marzipan Mousse 

  • 3.5 sheets of  gelatine
  • 170g full fat milk
  • 140g white marzipan
  • 170g whipping cream

Method

  • soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water
  • cut the marzipan into small pieces
  • bring the milk to just about to boil
  • pour over the marzipan
  • blend with a hand blender until fully combined
  • squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine and stir in the marzipan mixture until dissolved
  • allow to cool to 45C
  • meanwhile whip the cream until stiff
  • fold into the milk/marzipan mixture once it is 45C
  • cover with cling film touching the surface and place in the fridge until partially set and become gelatinous
  • WARNING:
    • the milk/marzipan and whipped cream have a tendency to separate until the gelatine takes hold
    • after about 20 minutes you may need to fold the mixture together again before the final chill for another 15 minutes
    • you want the mixture to be gelatinous for the build stage – it needs to be firm enough to stop the frozen cranberry apple jelly from sinking when put into the mould

 

 

 

Assembly

  • cut your chocolate sponge into a slice 9cm x 25cm making sure your rectangle is properly squared off
  • take your main mould out of the fridge and using a dough scraper pull the chocolate mousse up the sides of the mould, making sure it  fully covers the mould on all sides and is pressed into the crevices of the patterned mat
  • fill the mould up to 2cm from the edge with your marzipan mousse
  • take your jellies out the freezer and take 3 pieces out of the mould and place them end to end down the middle of the mould
  • fill the rest of the mould to the brim with the marzipan mousse covering the jellies with a thin layer of mousse
  • smooth off and clean the edges of the mould
  • place the chocolate sponge slice on top – it sits above the line of the bottom of the mould so be careful to get it to the edges correctly – hence why you need to clean off the mould before doing this so you can see where you are placing it
  • place in freezer until fully frozen – preferably overnight

 

 

 

Final Decoration

  • Dark Chocolate Velvet Cocoa Butter Spray
  • Gold edible sprinkly stuff of your choosing
  • Stars. santas, holly or any other christmas theme you fancy – I sprayed some Dr Oetker stars with edible gold paint

Method

  • on the day of serving take your mould out of the freezer and carefully extract your buche from the mould
  • trim off any excess sponge from the bottom so it is flush to the sides of the buche
  • spray with the velvet cocoa butter spray ensuring you do enough to cover the buche but not too much to hide the pattern
  • WARNING
    • the cocoa butter spray goes everywhere – next time I am getting a big box with one side open and spraying with the  buche inside the box
  • decorate as you wish
  • allow to defrost for 3-4 hours at room temperature and then place in fridge
  • serve and be merry!

 

 

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Ah, jetzt verstehe ich die Frage nach der Gelatine 😉 ! Hm, wie es scheint, ist die Größe der Blätter in England und Deutschland gleich, die Gelierkraft aber unterschiedlich.
    Es ist immer wieder ein Wagnis. Das stelle ich auch immer fest, wenn ich Rezepte zum Beispiel aus Frankreich backe. Es freut mich aber, dass euch die Bûche gut geschmeckt hat. Sie ist wunderschön gelungen! Ich wünsche dir ein frohes und leckeres neues Jahr 🙂
    Maren

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    1. Danke Maren – es koennte auch sein dass die Buche war zu Lang aus dem Kuehlschrank gewesen. Aber mit dem Fuellung hab ich auch mehr gelatine gebraucht obwohl es Von Dr Oetker war. Hmmm – ich probiere ihre geswhipste Whisky Torte fuer Sylvesterabend …. noch mehr Spass mit Gelatine 😳👍. Frohes Neujahr!

      Like

      1. Wenn die Gelatine von Dr. Oetker war, hätte es eigentlich funktionieren müssen. Vielleicht sollte ich mein Rezept anpassen. Danke für deine Rückmeldung! 😊

        Like

      2. Also …….. Ich habe die Anleitungen auf dem Paket angeguckt and es sagt dass für 570ml Flüssigkeit braucht mann für eine Mousse 5 Blätter. Also dass macht 0.009 Blatt pro ML Flüssigkeit. Ich glaube mit der Gelatine hier wird 3 bis 3.5 Blätter sicherer als 2. Die Entscheidung wieviel Gelatine zu benützen ist Immer schwierig weil es ist nicht geschmacklos and zuviel is eben so schlecht also zu wenig! Die Abenteuer mit Gelatinemenge geht schon weiter 🙂

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      3. Oha, das ist wirklich schön eine Wissenschaft 😉 ! Du hast recht, zu wenig Gelatine ist unschön. doch zu viel ist auch sehr unangenehm. Wir üben dann mal weiter! 😊
        Liebe Grüße!

        Like

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